"John Alvey Turner"

1900-1908 year range

Fretless 5 string
Repair to play


Fingerboard pulling up, will reseal

Some wear on board, will plane if necessary

Install 4 Violin style pegs and i Violin style 5th peg

Dowel has 2 issues.

 Poorly centered
And the angle is wrong to get a good action and correct bridging

Fingerboard problem

The fingerboard is too long, not allowing the dowel to go fully into it's front mortise

It is touching the tension hoop and we are still this far back, beside angle being off.

The dowel will not go into the mortise because of this
The rim is perfectly round, that has no bearing on it

With the dowel sealed TIGHT, and it having such a small 1/2" tenon, it is sure to break if I pull on it with traditional means.
My plan would be pull the heel cap, cut down into the heel to the tenon then steam it free, fill the gap after the new angle is achieved and hide it all under the cap.

Wedges to get the brad heads up so I can pull them

Sawing inward with a .008" thin blade, at slight angle

Since the dowel is so far off center, the angle of one side had to be steeper
This wood is so brittle it is no fun at all to work with, you can see the dry end grain

OK, the top of the dowel can be seen as well as its backside
It has a splint in the middle of it from the factory
It is also hand carved as well and not carved straight
Absolutely no way it would have pulled  without some relief around it

Im working around it slowly with my pick, to get some more relief

After soaking in 70  Isopropyl to soften glues, I heated it all to around 150 f for an hour and came free.
Its been a long afternoon on it, trying not to break an already compromised tenon.

So not only was it splinted and crooked, it also had a bottle neck carved into it '
This keylocked the dowel to the wall so very tightly I thought it would never pull but it did.
If today we made a dowel that had these "imperfections" we would get a much better lock with the wood than perfectly smooth dowel tenons.

OK, now to plug all this area so it can be drilled in the center this time as well as a new angle


I have some temporary shims in the bracket so I can set this dowel angle
I have cut the heel so the crook will not be a factor on the new angle

I have it where it is closer to center, and touching the rim...

Full contact

And full contact on front

I am changing another aspect, the elevation, so that the fingerboard will properly clear the rim and not push on the assembly.
As old and dry as this wood is, and as much gap filling I need to do I want to use an epoxy to totally encapsulate the dowel tenon leaving no area unfilled and solid.
I have already set the angle and tacked the dowel with a dab of cyano to hold it while I tape dam and mix the 2 part, 5 minute mix


Starting its cure, tape pulled
You can see it is full and will be rock solid.
I want no more problems from this poor old dowel!

Angle is attained, we are good to go

Board sealed back down, planed, fine sanded and steel wooled, now for oil

Remounting cap, only one coat of sealer on freshly stripped neck, no finish was really left on it from yesteryear.

Cutting in the 5th peg


Neck angle is evident, as is elevation over the plane of  the head.
It can now be bridged to play with some downforce

I can do nothing about the warped peghead

I will take it back apart for 4 more coats of finish on the neck, rim has been left "as is"

With this being a light spunover rim and all parts hand carved there is always a little looseness to them after years of shrinkage.
Also there are areas that can benefit by filing gaps that are just there "by design"

There is a space here that I want to go away so that has good contact and less ability for the neck to twist under playing stress , so I will use some ebony shim wood

I sealed it lightly to the board and will trim it down now

New Ebony shims for the neck hardware and Jamming little pieces of shimming in the tenon cutout

Light sealing there, that's about as stable as it gets without actually adding other  "non factory" retention.

Strung to pitch on a 5/5 Grover bridge, sounding good but we still have issues

Good action no prob at all there

Great heel contact all around now, OK there

Pegs holding OK,

You can see where the bridge lands...thats not good, that is 22" scale

This is caused by the addition of fret markers, a NO NO as far as I am concerned on fretless instruments
This is where the bridge now must land if a man intends to use these markers and play intonated.
 Very minimal downforce on bridge creating a more hollow tone.
The bridge wants to move around with any bumping, suggest  possibly light adhesive on feet when it comes home.

2nd Problem...

The crooked dowel is back in its original hole which was drilled off center a bit maybe to compensate for that crook.
At any rate, the tailpiece bolt is too far over one way and this makes the tailpiece not center the strings on the fingerboard

I have to "Cheat" it over this far to center the strings but it doesn't want to stay there on its own for long

It plays well other than these things, there is nothing to do about the bridge placement.
Now to drift the neck over, I have my plan.

I cut a .020" ebony shim and placed it into the bass side of the heel, then retightened all hardware.
010 was not enough.
This effectively makes the neck force over to the treble side.

The strings now center much better...

...Tailpiece comes a bit more  vertical


The  "Distracting" dots on the side of the neck correspond properly with the scale of this board and here is 12 . (Im Calling the scale 26")
 many old school instruments before they were marked at 9 ,12 and 14, as this one is.
It is like the star was added at 10 as an afterthought
So ...if you pulled the star and filled that hole
Moved double dots from 9 to 10, Star to 12 and single dot from 14 to 15, you could read this board MUCH better and...

...Bridge would be at an optimum if scale was at 26.
Right now you mind would have to adjust to 9 and 14 markers, ignoring the Star, very hard on the eyes.

We will stop here and send it on to Georg to see if he can deal with it as is or wants the changes now

OK, the changes will be put into effect.

I will pull the inlay at 14 and move to 15
Pull the star and move from 10 to 12
Leave 9 as it is, that is familiar to Georg to have 9 ,12, 15 pattern on 5 string

Picking Dots from my stash of dead oysters
Wait, is this Star overstated???

Both inlay pulled, filled, sealed, leveled, no pics to save time

Reset complete, ready to  steel wool and polish back to high shine


Double dot added at 12, on side marker

I will change the bridge now

Changed to 11/16 Farquhar bridge for a nice action
OK, ready to go and let Georg see how I did , I hope it plays to suit now.
Thanks for watching,Vinnie